If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” When people work their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. (Romans 4:2-5 NLT)
Relate: Father Abraham–now that guy really knows what it means to have a legacy. He is recognized in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. He is a great man in the history of faith. Yet, he isn’t exactly someone worth putting on a pedestal for his “good works.” He made mistakes. He lied to rulers on two separate occasions to claim his wife, Sarah, was his sister. (As a reader, you have to wonder why he would make the same exact mistake the second time.) He also made some interesting choices in the process of attempting to see the promise of many decedents fulfilled. There are times that his works are questionable at best. How, then, does he become a father of the faith despite his poor decisions?
He was told to pick up his tent and move without knowing where he was to go, and he did it. He was told to sacrifice his only son, and he did (until God stopped him). Abraham believed God and put his faith in Him. Although Abraham had a mixed bag of good and… not so good works, he was considered righteous. Paul reminds his audience of the value of faith over an emphasis on outward works by refering to the text that points out Abraham’s faith made him righteous, not his actions.
React: The religious world can get so hung up on judging actions that it forgets to focus on what truly counts. I am so encouraged by this passage because it is a great reminder to to me that my actions, good and bad, are not the determining factor for my righteousness. My righteousness comes through my faith in Jesus Christ. This same faith and belief causes me to want to live an upright life, but my hope rests in the knowledge that my salvation is not something I have to earn. I could never be good enough or do enough to earn a place as child of God. Thank goodness Father Abraham showed us the way: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
Dear God, Thank you for your great grace. I am acutely aware of my inability to earn your favor through my actions. I am so grateful for the righteousness that you provide me simply because of my faith in you. I pray that you will help those who, like I once did, struggle to find the faith to believe. Amen.